The war in Ukraine is not only on TV, but also on Twitter, Facebook, the gamut of social media. Its omnipresence makes it a degrading fact of our lives: For we are not the ones dying in the air raids, living in cities bombarded to rubble, or losing our children to midnight explosions. In our comfort is our guilt.
How shall we as poets and artists comprehend and respond to these displays of dark tyranny and violence? The editors of Hole In The Head Review and Nine Mile Magazine offer this anthology as one answer: Its message is that we should respond as what we are, that is, as artists.
For poets and artists, the substance of a poem or artwork—that is, its truth-telling—must alter the substance of the human soul, orienting it toward greater compassion, bending any thrust toward violence to a greater good. This is the transubstantiation of the word and the work; its mystical capacity is why men and women keep coming back to it to listen or to make or to look in times of stress or need or spiritual hunger.
“We must love one another or die,” Auden famously said and later recanted, pointing out that we die anyway, loving or not, and insisting that the line be altered to reflect the primacy of that fact over the vision of moral duty the line contains. His emendation is merely accurate; it does not obscure the unanswerable vision of the community of all men and women, for whom love is our great accomplishment, our great aspiration, and art is its and our greatest embodiment.
The poetry and art contained in this Ukraine Anthology form an urgent dialogue with humanity on an urgent issue. Read these poems, write your own, share them with your friends and colleagues, and be part of this effort to reclaim our humanity from tyrants.
The editors of Hole In The Head Review and Nine Mile Magazine
Nancy Jean Hill